Mundo named 2023 DEN Athlete of the Year


Ashanti Thomas

Christina Martinez Mundo dives for the ball during a match against Missouri Baptist University. The Panthers lost to the Spartans 3-2 Monday afternoon in Sister City Park.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

Christina Martinez Mundo traveled over 1,900 miles from her hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico to play volleyball here at Eastern Illinois University. 

The libero is entering her senior year with the Panther volleyball program and will wrap up her second year with the Panther beach volleyball program this Thursday. 

“I never expected to be here, just because of where I come from,” Mundo said. “I always knew I could go far, but never really thought it would come true. However, now that I am here, I know I belong, and nobody is taking that away from me.” 

In 242 sets played during her Division I volleyball career, Mundo has certainly left behind milestones worth chasing for future Panther volleyball members.   

Those milestones reached during the 2022 volleyball season earned Mundo the title of 2022-23 DEN Athlete of the Year.  

“It feels like an honor,” Mundo said. “I would never expect anything like this, so it feels great to see the way hard work pays off.” 

The Panther volleyball program had a historic 2022 season. Some of the season highs that were obtained during the season had not been reached since the 2015 season. 

As a team, the Panthers finished the season with 1,483 kills and 1,375 assists. Their overall record was 16-16 and 10-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference. All these milestones had not been reached since 2015. 

The 1,701 digs in the 2022 season were the most since the 2018 season and would not have been possible without Mundo. 

“It felt right,” Mundo said. “We worked hard, we cried, we sweat, we were tired, but we still battled. I think that was the most beautiful thing and to do that as a team, to come out with a lot of success, feel like you have made it.” 

Mundo ended her junior season with 599 digs total, breaking the EIU single season dig record. She was third in the OVC in digs per set and in total digs. These statistics alone earned Mundo second team All-OVC honors. 

Mundo broke the single season dig record during the 2022 OVC Tournament against Southeast Missouri in the quarterfinals, collecting 14 digs during the match. 

In the NCAA, Mundo ranked seventh in total digs and 17th in digs per set.  

Mundo said that she fully expected to break the single season dig record. 

“I wasn’t surprised when I got it because I was working for it,” Mundo said. “My first individual goal for the season was to get my 1,000 career digs and I got it. Then after, I wanted to break the digs record and I did. So, I was not surprised because I worked for it.” 

The 2023 volleyball schedule has not been released yet and the recruiting class has not been announced. 

However, in an interview after the home volleyball spring match earlier this month, head coach Sara Thomas told The News that she is very excited for the recruiting class to join the Panther volleyball program. 

The recruits will play alongside a solid senior class as Mundo, Ella Collins, Emily Wilcox, and 2022 OVC Player of the Year Giovana Larregui Lopez are all seniors. 

Mundo said that her individual goals are to set a new record of total digs in the OVC and to win Libero of the Year. 

“However, that is not as important as my teams’ goal, which is to bring that championship home,” Mundo said.  

Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]